Trying to track and quantify Egypt’s current H5N1 outbreak has been challenging since their Ministry of Health – and by extension, their heavily controlled press – have been slow to release information publically.
For the past 6 weeks case counts, and YTD fatalities, have either been blurred or simply omitted from Ministry reports and we’ve had to try to reconstruct those statistics from a variety of sources, including media accounts, FAO reports, and the WHO.
- According to the FAO/WHO - as of more than 2 weeks ago – there has been a net gain of 108 cases and 39 deaths since November 1st, 2014 (see An Egyptian H5N1 Roundup).
- FluTracker’s conservatively curated Egypt - 2015 WHO/MoH/Provincial Health Depts H5N1 Confirmed Case List puts the number at roughly 82 cases, and at least 23 deaths since the start of the year.
Despite these outside accountings, the `official’ numbers released to the public remain stubbornly static, as evidenced by the following report that appeared in the Aswat Asriya yesterday.
Saturday, March 07, 2015 7:50 PM
CAIRO, Mar7 (Aswat Masriya) - Egypt's ministry of health reported on Saturday the death of two women infected with the H5N1 bird flu virus, reported the state news agency MENA.
The women are from the governorates of Menufia and Sharqiya, the Health Ministry said in a statement reported by MENA.
The virus has killed over a dozen this year alone, according to Health Ministry figures.
While technically true that the virus has killed `over a dozen this year’, that unfortunate milestone appears to have been surpassed more than a month ago. Exactly when is difficult to know, as the Egyptian MOH hasn’t issued a YTD case count since mid-January (see Egypt’s MOH Confirms 21st H5N1 Case).
Today, from `The operation was a success, but the patient died’ department, we get this curiously worded report of a recent bird flu case in Menofia.
Saturday 07 / March / 2015 - 18:58
Dr. Reza live, director of the Preventive Medicine Menofia, the death of a housewife in the village of Hnchor of the Center for Ashmun as a result of complications due to being infected with bird flu. The live, the housewife named Amal Ibrahim Mansour "32" years old, was admitted to hospital Shebin fevers after confirmation of bird flu bird flu pointing out that it ended the treatment , but she died as a result of complications occurred with the virus.
For her part, Dr Hana Sorour, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Health Menoufia, that there are no deaths new infected with bird flu confirmed that the housewife who died of pneumonia were completely cured of bird flu, where analysis has confirmed that was sent to Cairo for examination passivity.
It is, admittedly, an unusual `spin’ to the story. Given the limited nuances of machine translations, I’ve no idea whether this article was meant to be reassuring, sarcastic, or something else entirely.
Interestingly, the MOH seems to acknowledge that this woman died of H5N1, as a 32-year old fatality is mentioned in their latest report (see below). Note the lack of any YTD numbers.
The Ministry of health and population of healing and three confirmed cases infected with بڤيرس (H5N1) avian influenza and to child years and nine months of East County, old girl, three and a half years of Eastern Province and a five-year-old from dakahlia governorate also announces the confirmed infected with bird flu and is an old lady, 43, of Giza governorate and two new confirmed death and two old lady 32 years from Menofia Governorate and the second Lady A 43-year-old from Eastern Province, bringing the total number of cases receiving treatment in the hospitals of the Ministry of health 7.
Finally, we have this following item which restates the obvious (that Bird flu is endemic in Egypt), but also announces that the World Health Organization and the FAO will be arriving today (Sunday) to assist local authorities in battling this H5N1 outbreak.
Saturday, March 7, 2015 - 20:21Minister of Health announced Dr. Adel Adawi, that bird flu, has solidified in Egypt, stressing the follow-up ministry day of infected foci. The minister added - during his interview for the program "Life Today" - that a delegation from the World Health Organization and FAO will arrive tomorrow to Egypt to check the status of the disease in Egypt, pointing out that the ministry's role in Egypt is to monitor cases and to provide the necessary treatment to them
Despite this winter’s unprecedented surge in cases, so far we’ve seen no evidence of large clusters or human-to-human transmission of the virus. The risk of infection still appears to be through contact with infected birds.
Of course, that would be far more reassuring if there were more clarity in the reporting from the Egyptian government.